reading “When They’re Reeling, Knock ‘Em Down” [Oct. 18],
Brian Lynch’s story about Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine,
one is tempted to conclude that either Mr. Lynch and Ms. Klein
haven’t read much Milton Friedman, or else they realized that
nuance doesn’t make good copy. You want your bad guys to be
all bad and your good guys to be all good, but life is seldom
Milton Friedman was an autodidact on the subject of free-market
capitalism, to be sure. But he is also famous for quotes such
as: “The case for free enterprise, for competition, is that
it’s the only system that will keep the capitalists from having
too much power. . . . The virtue of free enterprise capitalism
is that it sets one businessman against another and it’s a
most effective device for control.” Friedman believed, rightly
or wrongly, that the free market was the best way to achieve
prosperity and freedom for the general population, and his
life and work were dedicated to these ideals. The legacy he
was proudest of was his work in ending the draft, and he was
a crusader for drug legalization—hardly what you’d expect
from someone bent on controlling the masses for the benefit
Yes, Friedman met once (once!) with Pinochet, as he did with
many other heads of state, some of them in Communist countries,
to give advice. Knowing Friedman’s views on individual liberty,
it is the extreme of intellectual dishonesty to imply that
he was Pinochet’s “personal economic adviser” or that he condoned
the use of force in dealing with Pinochet’s adversaries.
Similarly, Klein trots out examples of authoritarian government
intervention in the economy, and labels them “capitalism”
(light is dark! slavery is freedom!) so that she can offer
up her kinder, gentler ideas as the alternative. Only someone
with this narrow focus could call an unprovoked invasion of
a foreign country, and the subsequent awarding of lucrative
contracts to politically connected companies, to be paid with
public money, “capitalism” or a “free market.”
This false dichotomy has an obvious casualty, namely, the
principle of natural, inalienable rights, which Friedman believed
was the proper basis of a free market economy. A system based
on inalienable rights would not permit a government to abolish
fishing villages and hand them over to developers—and neither
would it allow implementation of “progressive” ideas simply
because they have “popular support,” if those ideas would
violate people’s inalienable rights. Just because an idea
has “popular support,” doesn’t make it a good idea.
A serious discussion of Friedman’s legacy, or of the problems
posed to the free market by disasters, would be a good thing.
It appears that Klein’s book is neither.
Spitzer’s intrepid decision to support immigrant access to
driver’s licenses [“The New Rules of the Road,” Newsfront,
Oct. 18] will empower hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers
to rise from the shadows of fear and become fully contributing
members of society. Restoring immigrant access to driver’s
licenses will enable hundreds of thousands of motorists to
obtain a New York State driver’s license and automobile insurance,
resulting in safer roads for millions of New Yorkers. This
landmark policy also does not overlook security concerns.
The policy includes enhanced safeguards against fraud and
requires immigrants to produce secure and verifiable identity
documents, such as foreign passports, to become licensed drivers.
In addition, the policy does not violate the Federal Real
ID Act. Under the act, New Yorkers will be able to use their
licenses to board planes at least until May 2013. Although
the policy has been the target of fear-mongering politicians,
the fact is that providing immigrants with access to driver’s
licenses is a sound policy which will only enhance the safety
and security of New York State.
Trimble, Executive Director, Capital Region Chapter, New York
State Civil Liberties Union, Albany
“Yup” for Yip’s
a weekly reader of Metroland, as well as a regular
patron of Yip’s Restaurant, I was dismayed by B.A. Nilsson’s
review of one of my favorite places to dine [Food, Oct. 11].
First of all, Yip’s is in East Greenbush, not Rensselaer,
and although at one time the menu did have “column B combo
specials,” the “yellow tablecloth” reference must be a private
joke that I didn’t get. Also, why would he be astonished that
Yip’s would fill rapidly, when he states that bargains abound,
and “it was one of the most fun dining experiences my family
and I have enjoyed in a long time”? Might it be that people
know where to find delicious, reasonably priced Chinese food,
and not an all-American meal as Nilsson suggests? Finally,
after admitting that he “reviles” tofu, Nilsson states that
it was “almost palatable.” What kind of left-handed compliment
is that? As for the “spicy” request, remember that spicy is
relative. What was “hardly . . . with a bit of a bite” to
such a connoisseur as Nilsson might in fact be just right
to the Middle Americans that he alludes to. Also, did he forget
that he is not in Middle America, but the Northeast?
I think that Mr. Nilsson would agree that preparation and
presentation are important factors in the restaurant business.
Maybe the next time he travels somewhere that is so obviously
out of his element, he will follow suit. Jimmy, Ling, and
all of the Yip’s staff serve a first rate meal in a pleasant
surrounding, and I heartily endorse Yip’s to all I know.
Donahue, Green Island
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